Cryptozoology exhibits featured at Education Earth Museum

Baby oddities in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol.

Baby oddities in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ—

A sasquatch and Storm DeFrancesco Plains in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol. The museum is set to open on Sunday, May 12.

A sasquatch and Storm DeFrancesco Plains in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol. The museum is set to open on Sunday, May 12. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A scene from Hanger 18 at Area 51 is among the exhibits at the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol.

A scene from Hanger 18 at Area 51 is among the exhibits at the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Storm DeFrancesco Plains with a friend in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol.

Storm DeFrancesco Plains with a friend in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Storm DeFrancesco Plains in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol.

Storm DeFrancesco Plains in the Education Earth Museum on Main Street in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The White Woman exhibit is one of many cryptozoological features at the the Education Earth Museum in Athol.

The White Woman exhibit is one of many cryptozoological features at the the Education Earth Museum in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 05-10-2024 6:05 PM

ATHOL – A new museum is set to open in downtown Athol, but the many of the creatures featured won’t be found in a nature textbook.

Located at 475 Main St., the Education Earth Museum is owned and operated by Storm DeFrancesco Plains, who is a certified archaeologist and also holds a masters degree in substance abuse disorder. The exhibits are a blend of some of the more well-known subjects of cryptozoology as well as zoology.

Plains said that she worked in wildlife exhibits years ago and became fascinated by cryptozoology — the study of animals that are legendary, extinct, or whose existence is disputed — after hearing the story of the Mothman, a humanoid creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area in 1966.

“And then I just kind of got into everything,” she said. “Could there be a Bigfoot? Is there a Bigfoot? Of course, that’s a big thing.”

A former Athol resident now living in Gardner, Plains said that starting the museum had been on her mind for years. One day, she was driving through downtown and saw that the space at 475 Main St. was available.

“I think this will bring more to the town,” she said. “To spruce it up a little bit, maybe.”

In the main room of this small space, there are exhibits on the Man-Dog, The White Lady, Hanger 18 from Area 51, and replicas of the haunted phone and the doll “Annabelle,” which were among the cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Plains said that she’s familiar with the Warrens and had known Lorraine since she was 18.

“So I tend to believe, you know, there’s positive energy, there’s negative energy,” she said.

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Each of the exhibits features a replica of the subject, plus extensive information about it. Plains included one on King Tut, focused on the curse surrounding it, as well as dinosaurs. She joked that the setup is ideal for kids to get selfies with each creature. She said the name of the museum came about because many of the cryptozoological subjects have been found throughout the planet’s history, such as aliens, who have been said to have visited Earth in the distant past.

“I thought this could be a lot of fun,” Plains said.

In a smaller backroom, Plains is planning exhibits on zoology, with a focus on insects, marine life and more. She already has a collection of different specimens, such as the coconut crab and the Goliath spider. Plains also is the writer of “Growing Up With Joey The Kangaroo,” a children’s book about about five children who are raised with an Eastern Grey Kangaroo named Joey, and said she did wildlife shows for 15 years.

Plains hopes the Earth Education Museum inspires a growing interest in the fields of zoology and cryptozoology. She envisions clubs being started, and perhaps even a podcast on these topics. She plans to bring in new exhibits, rotate the collection and invite speakers from organizations such as the Mutual UFO Network.

“If we can, you know, teach people about different things, that would be great,” Plains said. “That can bring on discussion. We can have groups here, we can have kids come after school or in high school, and kind of get them into something positive.”

For more information on the Earth Education Museum, visit https://educationearthmuseum.com. Hours of operation are Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. On opening day, May 12, hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., children who wear a costume get in for $2, veterans are free and all others are $5. After May 12, admission is $5, $3 with an EBT, WIC or MassHealth cards up to four people per card and veterans get in for free.

Max Bowen can be reached at mbowen@atholdailynews.com or 413-930-4074.